WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. — As Daniel Murphy sidled in for infield drills Friday morning, someone joked about the paleness of his legs — both of which, it should be noted, are healthy now.
Murphy probably spoke in jest, because his offseason included plenty of lower body work aimed at strengthening his legs to avoid a recurrence of the butt injury that kept him out late in the season.
“Let’s go with hamstring strain,” Murphy said in his first official meeting with reporters Friday. Whatever you call it, and “butt injury” certainly seems to be the fan favorite term, that injury is healed now.
“I played five games at the end of the year and didn’t feel it at all,” Murphy said. “So I’ve tested it, so I’m not really concerned about it.”
Murphy spent the offseason throwing batting practice to his young son, and holding hitting clinics with his brother in the Jacksonville area.
“We talk about hitting and Jesus,” Murphy said. “It’s free, so if they don’t like it, they get a full refund.”
But the highlight of his offseason, at least in the public eye, was his much-reported work with Mets minor league outfielder Tim Tebow. Tebow lived down the street from Murphy in Jacksonville, but the two had not met before this season.
“He’s quite an impressive person,” Murphy said.
Murphy’s expert evaluation of Tebow was that “the power is real,” but he concluded that the former NFL quarterback “needs at-bats.”
“He needs 500, 600 plate appearances to try to make adjustments on the fly. It’s always interesting to see what happens when – he’s done all this work, and he’s improved greatly – you go from someone trying to hit your barrel to someone trying to not hit your barrel,” Murphy said. “He just needs that experience to pull from, which only a full season can give you.”
So after an exciting offseason full of Tim Tebow, Lululemon pants, and talking hitting, Murphy is back and healthy and ready to play. Dusty Baker said his understanding is that Murphy is full-go this spring, and if he weren’t, he would not be playing in the WBC next month. Murphy is on Team USA’s roster, along with starter Tanner Roark, who is in the designated pitching pool and therefore might only pitch once.